November 21, 2018

Grant Thornton

It’s Unlikely You’ll Hear More Rumors About a Grant Thornton and Moss Adams Merger

That’s because a source close to GT has told us “the deal with Moss Adams is dead.”

You’ll recall we first heard this rumor back in January which was denied by Moss Adams internally (GT was its typical mute self).

As for the why, our source told us, “The feedback from the Moss Adams board was that the MA partnership would not adequately support the merger.” Whether or not that’s true doesn’t take away from the fact that MA squeezed by GT in the GC Coolest Accounting Firm bracket and, thus, no MA partner worth their salt would want to join forces with GT and have to decipher hand-written notes from Stephen Chipman.

Despite this setback, that doesn’t mean GT isn’t on the prowl but we’ve got no idea who they might have their eye on, so we’d invite you to speculate on who that might be and get in touch if you know anything.

Grant Thornton Welcomes LECG Employees to the Brotherhood

After yesterday’s news that LECG that was more or less pulling the plug, Grant Thornton finally put out a press release that they were acquiring a “significant portion” of the company’s business.

GT is taking on 270 employees in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Portland across all its service groups. Naturally, Stephen Chipman is thrilled to share this dynamic news, “We are pleased to welcome these outstanding individuals to Grant Thornton LLP,” SC said, “I am confident that they will fit in perfectly with our people — intellectually curious, talented individuals who want to make a difference with their clients, in their workplace and in their communities.”

Which was a perfect segue into this:

“As I have stated before, our goal is to be the leading audit, tax and advisory firm serving dynamic organizations in our chosen markets,” continued Chipman. “Dynamic companies are companies that are ambitious and growing, expanding internationally. They are dealing with critical events or transactions and are in need of our value-added, integrated service solutions. We will continue to explore additional strategic mergers and acquisitions as our balance sheet is healthy [Ed. note: care to share?] and we are in a position to attract similar talent.”

In other words, GT is still on the prowl for more people to join their party. Any interested parties need to come with dynamism in boatloads.

Unfounded Rumor of the Day: Grant Thornton About to Announce a ‘Big West Coast Deal’

Remember those GT/Moss Adams rumors from back in January? At the time, our post sent both firms calling for plumbers but we still mangaged to get a copy of an email from Moss Adams CEO Rick Anderson that denied the rumor in an email to the firm’s partners. Everything has been quiet since then mostly because…well, it’s busy season. Granted, firm leaders like Stephen Chipman and Rick Anderson aren’t thigh-deep in spreadsheets like most of you so the fact it’s entirely plausible that while you’re all distracted, TPTB have been courting each other.

We received this brief note from a tipster yesterday:

Rumor is [Grant Thornton] [is] about to announce big west coast deal.


Our source originally speculated that a tax/valuation/consulting boutique was the target because of an old Andersen connection but then told us that the latest word from the west coast is that Moss Adams is back in the picture. In our original post, we went over the reasons for and against the GranMoss merger and frankly it still could go either way (we’re leaning “no” at this point). That said, Grant Thornton has been on a buying spree, most recently picking up some attest services from the LECG Corp. fire sale, so a merger of some kind wouldn’t be a surprise but WHO?? We’re listening to any and all well-founded or crackpot theories.

Moss Adams has declined to comment on the rumor thus far and Grant Thornton did not return an email requesting comment.

UPDATE: This just in from a Grant Thornton tipster:

While I have no actual basis for substantiating this, we have a Moss Adams wireless signal in our office in the central region. There is no Moss Adams office in our building, or even out state, its been there since about January when the rumors first popped up. I just thought it was interesting. I have no insight into any of this, I’m just a lowly peon staff…

Perhaps there’s an explanation for this but I’m no expert on the wireless signals and whatnot so I’ll leave it to you to reason this out.

Chief Audit Executives Like Sarbanes-Oxley…No, They Really Like It

A new survey of more than 300 chief audit executives (CAEs) by Grant Thornton LLP finds that while nearly half believe that the shifting regulatory landscape poses the greatest threat to their company, a vast majority (88%) do not believe that the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX) should be repealed. Of those that believe SOX should be repealed, the cost of compliance is the main reason for doing so. “Since the passage of SOX, organizations have had to dedicate significant resources to comply with a host of new laws and regulations,” noted Warren Stippich, a Chicago-based partner and Grant Thornton’s national Governance, Risk and Compliance solution leader. “Based on discussions with various CAEs during the survey process, many believe that SOX brings a continued focus by management on financial and governance-related controls. However, CAEs believe that compliance audit processes are now well-defined and are currently exploring ways to contribute value creation to the organization well beyond compliance monitoring and reporting.” [GT]

Moss Adams CEO Denies Grant Thornton Merger Rumor in Email to Partners

In reaction to our post yesterday about the rumor of Grant Thornton and Moss Adams being united in wedded CPA firm bliss, Moss Adams Chairman and CEO sent an email to MA partners yesterday afternoon. The email, sent to us earlier today, let the partners know that no one is out of the loop, “[L]et me start by assuring you that you did not miss a partner call, a partner memo or any other such communication dealing with this.”


Mr Anderson also wrote that he has spoken to Grant Thornton, “Since we last had the all partner webinar, there have been no substantive discussions with GT – I say no substantive discussions because I have been at an AICPA major firms meeting where I not only had casual discussions with the GT leadership team, but I had similar discussions with the leadership of most of the 30-50 largest CPA firms in the country, exclusive of the Big 4.”

So you can interpret things like, “no substantive discussions with GT” and “casual discussion with the GT leadership team” how you like but Mr Anderson made himself a little clearer near the end of the email, “I can absolutely assure you that while we have had discussions with a large number of firms (of all sizes) over the past 12 months […] there are currently no negotiations under way with any firm regarding merger. But I can also tell you that I and other [Executive Committee] members will be talking to some west coast firms over the next several weeks.”

Moss Adams has not responded to our most recent request for comment. Grant Thornton sent back our carrier pigeon with it’s head cut off (very Chicago), which is the closest thing resembling a response that we’ve ever received from the firm. We’ll keep you updated.

Unfounded Rumor of the Day: Grant Thornton and Moss Adams in Merger Talks

This week we learned that Dixon Hughes and Goodman & Co. would be wedded in CPA firm bliss on March 1st. We’ve also seen a couple of smaller mergers announced this week in the tri-state area: Rosen Seymour Shapss Martin & Company LLP and Kahn, Hoffman & Hochman, LLP formed Kahn Hoffman & Hochman and Morrison, Brown, Argiz & Farra, LLC and ERE, LLP.

But eheard a rumor that trumps all of these:

The new rumor is that Grant Thornton and Moss Adams are merging. I have it on good authority (an industry consultant and the MP of a California firm).


Okay, so not exactly rock solid but intriguing enough for us to ask around. So far, Grant Thornton spokeswoman Kristi Grgeta has not returned our emails or voicemails and Moss Adams has declined to comment at this time. We’re poking around with other sources but still waiting to hear back.

So for now, let’s just go with the hypothetical. If GT and Moss were to combine, it would make them the 5th largest firm in the U.S., narrowly edging out McGladrey, with about $1.5 billion in revenues, going by Accounting Today’s most recent figures. Currently they are 6th (GT) and 11th (MA) on the AT100 list and 6th (MA) and 23rd (GT) on Vault’s flagship ranking. Their combined forces would have nearly 800 partners and over 7,100 total employees, if you assume no layoffs.

While all that might serve Stephen Chipman’s desire more dynamic clients (and perhaps more blogging fodder?), it would certainly require a few more hand-written notes. Not only that but GT already has a presence in every major market that Moss Adams does unless they’re looking to mine the Eugene, Oregon market for LOSERS and have reconsidered their divestment in Albuquerque. Also culturally, this seems like a strange fit as GT strikes us as pretty buttoned-down while Moss Adams is more laid back but maybe we’ve got that wrong. You tell us.

Regardless, Grant Thornton has voiced interest in merger possibilities and picked up Huron Consulting’s Disputes & Investigations practice last year, so who knows!? Both firms just closed the books on 2010 and maybe they’re laying some groundwork?

So, what do the GT and MA people make of this? Hell, anyone can chime in, we’re just finding this particular rumor pret-tay interesting. Some things make sense and some don’t, so we’ll leave it to you to hash out. And of course, if any of this sounds familiar because, you know, you heard something in a meeting about this very topic, email us. We’ll update you with anything we hear.

Sue Sachdeva Was Needlessly Paranoid About Grant Thornton’s Fraud Detecting Abilities

About a year ago at this time, we just started learning about Sue Sachdeva, the convicted embezzler extraordinaire of headphone cobbler Koss. It took a little less than a year for everything to get sorted out including quite the inventory of luxury loot, her emerging talent for stealing money, lawsuits, a guilty plea and a sentence of 11 years.

Since all that’s settled it’s on to the lawsuits and Suze was recently deposed in Koss’s lawsuit against Grant Thornton where she testified about many interesting things, including being a nervous nelly from the get-go:

Former Koss Corp. executive Sujata “Sue” Sachdeva worried each day that she would be caught embezzling money that eventually totaled $34 million.

“Fear was one thing. I thought it was imminent,” she said in a recent court deposition. “Their auditors, every time they walked in, I’d say, ‘This is it. They’re going to catch me.’ 

Turns out, S-squared was paranoid for no good reason because – as we all know – GT had no clue that she was lifting millions every year to pay off her AMEX, partly, she says, because they were throwing green auditors at the company every year:

Sachdeva said in the deposition that Grant Thornton considered Koss to be a well-run company and a good training ground for its new auditors.

“Every year, we’d have at least one or two new auditors come through, and I know Michael (Koss) and I both objected to that – getting kids right out of college and had to explain the business to them every time,” Sachdeva said.

Sachdeva said she never held back documents from the auditors. They didn’t question the amounts of money flowing in and out of the company, nor did they question the internal controls, she said. The lack of inquiries surprised her, she said.

Then there were the allegations that she was having regular three-vodka-shot lunches, according to an October article in Milwaukee Magazine:

Retailers who lunched with Sachdeva say she downed vodka shots at the North Shore Bistro with Julie and Tracy. “Then they all went back to work bombed,” says one shop owner.

One consignment shop owner recalls picking up Sachdeva and taking her to Harvey’s restaurant in Mequon. “Sue told the waiter she wanted her ‘juice.’ They knew that meant vodka,” says the shop owner, who was surprised by how much Sachdeva drank.

Well, it all kinda makes sense now doesn’t it? She was either paranoid because she drank or drank because she was paranoid. OR the amateur auditors drove her so batty and she had no choice but to get a little loaded. Anyway you slice it, the auditors seem to be ones to blame, which seems like a trend these days.

Koss embezzler feared discovery from start [MJS]
The Diva [Milwaukee Magazine]

Should an “Acting Senior Manager” Take a Job with Grant Thornton That Promises a Transfer?

Welcome to the Holly Jolly Hump Day edition of Accounting Career Emergencies. In today’s edition, an “acting” senior manager is being recruited for a gig with GT in a Mid-Atlantic office with the promise to transfer to another office after the upcoming tax seasons. Can he trust GT to make the deal happen?

Worried that your career (or bonus) is in jeopardy because your firm is in a bit of a jam? Not sure how to approach a potential dance partner? Caught in an awkward situation that involves hookers and cash but it’s really just one big misunderstanding? Email us at [email protected] and we’ll do our best to right these wrongs (or at least make you feel better about them).

Back to the actor:

I have 8 years experience in tax compliance as an acting senior manager on a large client. A former co-worker is recruiting me for a [Mid-Atlantic] GT tax position as a senior since I have no CPA. They are willing to have me work in [Mid-Atlantic] until 09/11 and then allow me to transfer to another office after 9/11.

My interview will be next week and will be with [Mid-Atlantic] partner and the partner from the office I want to transfer to. My questions for the group are the following. Does anyone know what the staffing is like in the tax group in [Mid-Atlantic]? (i.e. all new staff or good experienced people) Does GT pay well? My current salary is $98,000. Can I trust them to honor their word about transfering me after 9/11?

-Acting Senior Manager

Dear ASM,

We have to say, this is a very odd situation you’ve got so we’ll do our best to help you out. For starters, why don’t you have a CPA license? We’re sure there’s an explanation but an 8 year vet of the business with no CPA strikes us as odd. Written exam too scary? You’ve got a JD and figured the CPA wasn’t necessary? Perpetual BEC failure? Whatevs. Secondly, we’re get the impression that you want this job mostly for the transfer, so we’ll skip the “climbing down the corporate ladder” lecture.

Now, then. We can’t speak to the staffing situation in the office you speak of but it would be shocking if all the staff at GT south of Philadelphia and north of Raleigh were completely incapable of doing their jobs (if we’re off base, please share). The pay at GT will be fine but your work experience is a big bargaining chip. Use it wisely and be ready to lay out why your extensive experience should result in more money for you.

As for taking the word of GT partners, it’s a pretty good sign that a partner from your desired office will be there for your interview. Also, what motivation would anyone have by going back on this deal? Would they really give you the job only to betray you less than a year later? This strikes us as unlikely. Staffing needs are always up in the air so for them to give you this opportunity seems us as a pretty exceptional deal. Regardless, we’d ask to get something in writing. Chances are this has already happened, as we assume some of these discussions occurred over email but something official would be ideal. If they balk, then you’ve got cause to question their sincerity. Good luck.

Oh, and get your CPA for crissakes.

(UPDATE) Grant Thornton Employees Prohibited From Accessing WikiLeaks, Even in Their Spare Time

~ Update includes email sent to all KPMG employees and further details on communication within PwC.

Confirming some chatter in last Friday’s post on the banishment of WikiLeaks at Deloitte, notification at Grant Thornton was sent out late on Friday.

So not even after a long, hard day doing Stephen Chipman’slowed to read catty messages between diplomats or war logs on your personal computer. What’s next? Firmwide emails instructing lonely accountants not to visit Fleshbot (NSFW)?

Personal time aside, judging by the conversation on the Deloitte post, it appears that KPMG has also communicated ‘no peeky at wiki’ but we haven’t seen the official communiqué. And since all the major firms have contracts with the Feds, we decided to call around to see find out the scoop. So far, a source at PwC did inform us that the WikiLeaks website is accessible but no official policy on accessing the site has been communicated to the firm at large.

[UPDATE: We have learned that PwC’s Washington Federal Practice did receive communication prohibiting access, downloading, etc. etc. to WikiLeaks, however, as we’ve updated above, a firm-wide communication was not sent.]

Messages with E&Y and KPMG were not immediately returned. If there has been official lines have been drawn in the cyber-sand, kindly email us with any communication.

Earlier:
What if Accounting Firms Had Their Own Version of WikiLeaks?

UPDATE: The message from KPMG, courtesy of the sagacious Judge Sven Erik Holmes:

Date:December 10, 2010
To:All KPMG Personnel
From: Sven Erik Holmes, Vice Chair, Legal and Compliance
Subject:Government Notice Regarding Web site Access

PLEASE DO NOT DELETE THIS E-MAIL WITHOUT READING

In response to the recent well-publicized release of government documents on the WikiLeaks Web site, the federal government has begun notifying its contractors regarding restrictions on accessing classified documents included in that release. As a provider of services to several federal agencies, KPMG is a federal government contractor and has begun receiving such notices from its federal agency clients. This e-mail contains important instructions regarding access to such classified information, which are applicable to all firm personnel.

KPMG personnel should not access information marked or labeled as classified (including material publicly available on the WikiLeaks Web site or other Web sites) using government or KPMG computers or other devices that access the Web (such as PDAs or Smartphones) as doing so risks placing material that is still classified on non-classified systems. This restriction does not limit employee or contractor access to nonclassified, publicly available news reports (and other nonclassified material) that in turn reference classified material, as opposed to the underlying classified material itself (whether or not in the public domain).

The government’s notices remind us that federal contractors are obligated to protect classified information pursuant to all applicable federal laws, and to use government information systems, whether classified or unclassified, appropriately. Unauthorized disclosures of classified documents (whether in print, on a blog, or on a Web site) do not alter the documents’ classified status or automatically result in declassification of the documents. To the contrary, classified information, whether or not already posted on public Web sites or disclosed to the media, remains classified, and must be treated as such by federal employees and contractors, until it is declassified by an appropriate U.S. government authority.

If you believe that you may have downloaded classified information to a government or KPMG computer or other device that accesses the Web (such as a PDA or Smartphone), please contact [a KPMG lawyer who will ask you a ton of questions and probably scold you] in OGC at [lawyer’sname]@kpmg.com.

KPMG personnel are also reminded that firm policy requires personnel to maintain the confidentiality of any information that they obtain from a client in connection with a client engagement. It is important that the confidentiality of any such information be maintained.

Compensation Watch ’10: Grant Thornton Kicks Off Hanukkah

From the mailbag:

I work at GT as an associate in [a Southwest] office. Partner called to tell me i got a 1k bump to salary. It appears that GT is giving out raises in December. They are calling them market adjustments…

There seems to be confusion as to whether this is a bonus, lump sum raise, or spread out over the year. My partner told me it’ll be spread out over the year and it was a permanent raise. Others have been told it is a lump sum bonus. The new A1’s found out yesterday their starting pay was increased. I’ve talked with seniors and none of them have heard anything I know about, and they seem pretty pissed at the whole situation.

Are SAs getting blanked? Is this happening anywhere else? Inform everyone below or email us if you know the scoop.

Grant Thornton Employees in Chicago Feeling the Heat to Join Big 4

After reporting rumors that PwC was chasing Deloitte seniors in Chicago, now comes another report out of the House of Chipman:

Is it just me or is pwc trying really hard to bring in seniors in Chicago? The other day at GT, the same pwc recruiter called every S1 in audit asking if we’d be interested in moving over.

A few of us actually answered just to see what he had to say and he was pushing real hard in getting people to accept that if we made a move, we’d have to take a step down (S1 to move over to A3), and that they’d be making a large investment in keeping us long-term (at least through a promotion to manager). This is after we lost a S2 and an A2 who both moved to pwc. Plus, we’ve received several emails from other outside recruiters gauging our interest in the Big 4, not to mention my friends at the Big 4 trying to get me to send them my resume so they can refer me (for a much larger referral bonus, I’m assume). Not sure if this is juicy enough information, but that’s pretty much what’s happening right now over at G to the T.

Here’s the deal people – all the firms need people at the Senior Associate level. All the firms have made it known that they are hiring aggressively, both experienced and entry-level employees and the recruiters within the firms have jobs too. Besides, where are they supposed to look for the appropriate talent to fill their empty positions? Dunkin’ Donuts?

Grant Thornton, believe or not, has plenty of talented people and the Big 4 will take those people if they can get them. Management probably gets tired of all the bellyaching by employees about how short-staffed they are so the pressure is on the recruiters to get asses in the seats.

If you don’t want to be hassled by Big 4 recruiters, simply say, “I’m not interested, thanks,” and go on your merry way. But judging by all the complaining at GT, lots of employees are probably happy to entertain some options.

Grant Thornton’s New CPA Policy: Bonuses and Requirement for Promotion

Grant Thornton rolled out some policy updates today related to obtaining a CPA (full email after the jump), including some impressive bonuses for its newest employees (hired after April 15, 2010). The largest available is $10k if you happen to be of the Elijah Watts types and “are among the top 10 candidates earning the highest cumulative scores on the four sections of the CPA Exam in the country.”

Other bonuses include:

• $5k for passing all four sections within one year of full-time hire.
• $3k if you pass within 18 months of full-time hire.
• $7.5k for those in the top ten in their state but not good enough for national recognition.

The firm is also paying a small bonus ($1k) for current employees who have epicly failed so far but��������������������exam between August 1, 2010 and July 31, 2011.

While most people easily get hung up on the money aspect of things, the bigger change is the requirement for new employees (again, those hired after April 15, 2010) to have passed all four sections of the CPA prior to being eligible for promotion to Senior Associate. That goes for both audit and tax employees.


We covered CPA exam policies in a couple of posts earlier this year and the only other firm that has this requirement is PwC for the audit practice. The tax practice requires a CPA for promotion to manager.

So some pretty interesting developments at GT and it seems to be a fair transition – from a timing standpoint anyway – as those hired in the last six months can hardly find their ass with both hands, let alone be ready for a promotion to SA. But again, this is major policy change going forward and GT is, at the very least, making the case that they will be holding all of their associates to a higher threshold of performance than firms that don’t have such requirements.

Sound off your support or displeasure in the comments on the bonuses or promotion requirements below. And for the non-GTers out there, what do you think of your firm’s policy? Does it need updated to keep the pace with GT’s move? Are changes in the works? Keep us updated by emailing us at [email protected].

Policy update
Important information regarding CPA licensure

At Grant Thornton, we are a dynamic global organization that is committed to making a difference to our colleagues, clients, the profession and our communities. As part of our commitment to providing our clients with distinctive service and the highest quality, I am pleased to announce two important changes effective immediately.

Introducing the CPA Pass Bonus
It is our goal to continue to attract intellectually curious, talented individuals to our firm and to encourage them to pass the CPA exam and earn their license as soon as possible. As such, I am delighted to announce that Grant Thornton will now offer a CPA Pass Bonus.

Grant Thornton will pay professionals who joined the firm as entry-level associates from campus on or after April 15, 2010
· $5,000 – For passing all four parts of the exam prior to or within one year of their full-time date of hire

· $3,000 – For passing all four parts of the exam within 18 months of their full-time date of hire

· $10,000 – For those who are among the top 10 candidates earning the highest cumulative scores on the four sections of the CPA Exam in the country

· $7,500 – For those who are recognized as earning the highest cumulative scores on their initial sitting for the four sections of the CPA Exam within their state and were not national winners

To recognize a transition within the spirit of the new policy, Grant Thornton will pay a one- time “catch up” to experienced associates through senior associates

· $1,000 – For passing all four parts of the exam, if they pass during the August 1, 2010 and July 31, 2011 time period only

CPA requirement for promotion to senior associate
In addition to paying a bonus to those passing the CPA exam, the firm has made the decision to require audit and tax employees to have passed all four parts of the CPA exam in order to be promoted to senior associate.

For employees hired on or after April 15, 2010

· This new promotion policy is effective immediately.

For employees hired before April 15, 2010 or as experienced associates and senior associates:

· Employees who have not yet passed the CPA exam will be “grandfathered” under our current policy. In that regard, we encourage all individuals currently at the associate 2 level or above to pass the CPA exam within the next 2 years. However, they must be a licensed CPA prior to being promoted to manager.

For additional information, please see the CPA Pass Bonus Policy linked here.

If you have any questions about either of these changes, please contact your practice leader or local HR professional.

Lou

Grant Thornton CFO Survey Reminds Everyone That the Job Market Still Sucks

But don’t just take the CFOs word for it, Stephen Chipman is hearing the same thing from the dynamic companies that GT is rubbing elbows with these days:

In a national survey of U.S. Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) and senior comptrollers conducted by Grant Thornton LLP, the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd, only 29% plan to increase hiring in the next six months, while 21% plan to decrease hiring.

A vast majority (79%) believe that the U.S. economy will not recover until the second half of 2011 or later, and more than half (59%) are concerned with a double-dip recession.

“These findings are consistent with what we have been hearing from our dynamic-organization clients,” said Grant Thornton LLP CEO Stephen Chipman. “Indecision stemming from a weak economy and the unknown impact of governmental tax policy and new regulation on business and individuals is causing paralysis, particularly as it relates to major business decisions, including expansion, expenditures and hiring.”

In related economic shitshow news, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are probably going to need more bailout cash. As you were.

Grant Thornton Is Done Selling: Acquires Huron’s Disputes & Investigations Practice

If you had to judge the state of Grant Thornton based on the activity over the past year, you might assume that the firm was headed downhill because of their disposal of several offices around the country. Despite the haters and accent conspiracy theorists out there, Stephen Chipman was confident about the future. So much so that he sent hand-written notes to all of you encouraging you to become GT evangelists.

Now this morning, we learn that this unleashing of dynamic potential clients could be taking shape:

Grant Thornton LLP said Monday it has acquired the assets of Huron Consulting Group’s disputes and investigations practice in a deal that will bring 60 people to Grant Thornton’s offices in Boston, Chicago, New York and San Francisco.

The acquisition is part of Grant Thornton’s strategy to double revenue in the next five years. Huron Consulting has divested itself of its disputes and investigations practice. Huron’s D&I employees will join Grant Thornton’s economic and advisory groups in four cities, including Boston.

Well! This is quite the acquisition. Since GT and Huron are both Chicago-based, there is likely a lot of connections here that helped make this deal happen. Huron’s press release states that the D&I group (the smallest inside the company) had been on the block because the overlords wanted to focus its efforts on “businesses [with] a more substantial market presence”:

The Company stated previously that it was evaluating the long-term prospects of its D&I service line, which had accounted for approximately 5% of the Company’s overall revenue for the first six months of 2010. “The Disputes and Investigations practice has been a part of Huron since our formation in 2002. We recently conducted a comprehensive assessment of all of our businesses and concluded that the divestiture of the D&I practice would enable management to devote more of its energies and financial resources to businesses where we have a more substantial market presence,” said James H. Roth, chief executive officer, Huron Consulting Group.

[…]

Huron is also revising its 2010 revenue guidance based on the divestiture of the D&I practice and other market factors impacting two reporting segments. When the Company announced second quarter results in July 2010, it provided a 2010 revenue guidance estimate between $600-$620 million.

Based on the divestiture of the D&I practice, the 2010 Company revenue guidance would have been reduced by $35-$40 million. In addition to the D&I divestiture impact, the Company is reducing its annual guidance by an additional $25-$30 million to reflect contract and project delays in two of its service lines: Healthcare and Accounting Advisory.

On the surface, it may look like a good deal for both companies but in reality it feels like Huron was desperate to sell a good revenue-generating unit (19% as of June 30, 2010) and since GT is definitely shopping for acquisitions, the firm was more than happy to take it off their hands.

This acquisition will allow GT access to a sexy area of advisory work (D&I consists of “business disputes, forensic accounting and investigative services, tax controversies and intellectual property disputes”) in key markets and presumably, they can hype the new group internally to expand it and compete for more business.

The only possible downside is that some inside GT may be concerned (we’re speculating here) about taking on more Andersen refugees but ultimately it looks like a good move and the first example of the firm making good on its new strategy. If you’ve got a different opinion, chime in below.

Grant Thornton buys Huron operation [Boston Business Journal]
Huron Consulting Group Announces Divestiture of Disputes & Investigations Practice to Continue Focus on Core Businesses [EON]

Grant Thornton CEO Admits That He Wasn’t Prepared for the Chicago Winters

Stephen Chipman also says that he misunderestimated the demand for his time. Who could have known?


Highlights/questions:

• The over/under is $2 billion by 2015. Who has action on this?

• Is everyone clear on the “the dynamic organization space”?

• What do we think of Stephen sans spectacles?

Merger and acquisition strategy? Who is GT going after? SC keeps it vague, per standard operating procedure. Accordingly, we welcome your rampant speculation.

Grant Thornton Didn’t Promote Me, Do I Go to PwC?

Today in accounting firm musical chairs, a SA3 who got passed over for promotion at GT has an offer to joining soon-to-be rebranded PwC as an SA1/2. WHAT TO DO?!?

Have a question about your career? Worried that you’re too hot for the Big 4 and your hot brain will be overlooked? Trying to decide if you should give it all up and join the circus? Email us at [email protected] and we’ll let you know if you should consider becoming the next human cannonball.

Back to our accountant in peril:

I’m a recurring S3 (financial) who was passed up on the manager position because of internal politics [Ed. note: reader admits that this is their opinion]. I have a offer with PWC to join their asset management group as a S1/S2.

Is this career suicide? I have until today to tell GT if i’m leaving or tell PWC that i have to rescind the offer.

I’ve had it with GT and although they said there is a good chance next [year] to make manager, i dont believe the hype.


Timing if of the essence, so we’re on this – Looking forward to a promotion to manager and getting passed over is a tough pill to swallow. All of your hard work that you’ve put in over the last five or so years (that feel like ten) no feels wasted. As you say, you’re not buying the hype any more and we don’t blame you. However, succumbing to your frustration and allowing PwC to knock you down a notch (or two) on the ladder is the last thing we think you should do.

You shouldn’t let any firm take advantage of your vulnerability and devalue your experience just because you were in Casa de Chipman. If you were an associate, the situation might be different but if you’re on the throes of making manager and now it might be at least another year before you’re even being considered for manager, feels like a disservice.

That being said, it doesn’t sound like you’re happy at GT. And being miserable at work sucks. If you’re crawling out of bed, hating your commute and the faces of your co-workers make you want to projectile vomit on their laptops, that’s a serious sign that you need to GTFO.

Luckily, you’ve got options, friend. If you trust your performance coach/counselor, ask them if there are possibilities within GT that you can explore (possibly a practice rotation?).

But if you’re truly burned out on GT, don’t do something rash like take the first offer thrown in front of you. Take your time and make the next career move that’s perfect for you. Don’t settle for the glitz of PwC just because they make it sound like the best shit since paperless audits (they aren’t that cool anyway). Your experience is valuable, go find a company that will reward you for it.

At Least One Grant Thornton Office Doesn’t Think It’s Too Early To Discuss Holiday Parties

From the mailbag, straight out of H-town:

Today, sept 1st, I got a save the date for the 2010 Christmas party. So yes GT Houston is having a Christmas party this year and apparently they are so excited about it, they wanted to let everyone know way in advance! Woot!

Is this some sort of retention tactic? Probably too little too late…..


Grant Thornton’s timing of this announcement is interesting on several counts. First, Christmaskuh was canceled by KPMG last year in early August. Since this is the first Holiday Ho down news we’ve received for any firm, this may be a good sign.

Second, our source’s suspicion is noted – is GT Houston employing a free booze morale booster here? Will the promise of catering, free hard liquor (at the very least beer and wine) and the opportunity for awkward sexual advances help rally that office back to indifference as opposed to downright morbidity? Oh and watch out for a certain PwC partner who might try to crash the party since he’ll likely be kept away from the booze at his own.

Discuss the early holiday cheer. And keep us informed about your firm’s/office’s holiday rager status.

Latest Grant Thornton Business Optimism Index Reaffirms That No One Has Any Idea What Is Going to Happen Next

Complete and utter meltdown to the point where are all fighting over chicken skins and muffin stumps? The next asset bubble to get us back to our mall-hopping weekends? It’s anybody’s guess really.

Grant Thornton LLP’s Business Optimism Index, based on a quarterly survey of U.S. business leaders, decreased significantly to 58.4 in August from a recent high of 67.6 in May. Business leaders are again becoming pessimistic, with only one-third (34%) expecting the U.S. economy to improve in the next six months, down significantly from 63% in May. The hiring outlook has also dimmed; only 38% of business leaders report that their companies will ramp up hiring in the next six months.


So the one thing we can count on is that unemployment will be hovering above 9% until at least the next presidential election. Got it.

Grant Thornton LLP Business Optimism Index drops 10 points [GT]

Stephen Chipman’s Toast to Bob Herz

“Bob Herz led the FASB during the most challenging time in its history,” said Grant Thornton LLP CEO Stephen Chipman. “He has been a tireless leader with an unwavering focus on the users of financial statements and we are grateful for his service to the profession and wish him well in his retirement. We also extend our congratulations to Leslie Seidman as she takes up the mantle as acting chairman and stand ready to help her and the FASB establish accounting standards that are right for the marketplace and for the dynamic organizations [Ed. note: they’re part of the new strategy, as you may recall] we serve.”


Trite statement as it may be, at least SC said something (we’re looking straight at you Veihmeyer, Moritz, Salzberg, Howe).

Grant Thornton LLP CEO statement regarding Bob Herz retirement [GT]

Stephen Chipman Wants You To Share Grant Thornton’s New Strategy with Your Loved Ones

On Friday we gave you the review of the recent video conference that featured Stephen Chipman discussing Grant Thornton’s new strategy “Unleashing Our Potential” in an accent that may or may not be fake.

Over the weekend we were fortunate enough to have another source at GT send us the following hand-written note that was sent to all employees prior/in coordination with the video:


This more personal form of communication shouldn’t come as a total surprise. Back in the spring, Chip-to-my-Lou sent a message to Grant Thornton partners encouraging to scribble down some warm thoughts for all those nights and weekends in busy season. An email is so cold and sterile and since SC knows what’s good for the goose is good for a British Gentleman, here you have his own very words and thoughts to serve as a reminder that his blog is no substitute for his elegant penmanship.

After being mesmerized by the prose, the next thing that caught us off guard was Steve-o’s call for you to be unleashing your potential hours before you even plop down in the cube farm. This means you should be unleashing your potential while you lie in bed, in the shower and during your god-awful commute. Likewise, you are still unleashing that potential on the god-awful commute back home after your 12-15 hour day or at the local pub (but don’t unleash and drive).

What’s also strange about this note is the plea that you share “Unleashing Your Potential” with your friends and family. Maybe there are a lot of people out there that like discussing innate corporate strategy (and what it really means) with their loved ones but our source was not impressed, “why would my family and friends care about GT’s strategy?”

Forget our source’s sour attitude for a moment. We want to hear from those of you that immediately sat down your significant other to share this news with them. How did they take it? We’re they completely enamored with this new path in GT’s quest to bring back the “Big 5”? Or did they interrupt you saying, “Honey, I want you to listen to what Stephen wrote to me. To us,” to tell you that this letter was the last straw and that your relationship was over?

What about your buddies at the upcoming Fantasy Football draft? Will you be telling them about the new strategy, possibly risking your expulsion from the league? Or at your next girls night? Will this English gentleman (fake accent or not) get you all swooning over purple hues and roses?

Let us know how it goes.

UPDATE: Naturally, a reader noted a misspelled word in Stephen’s letter that we overlooked. As you might suspect we don’t get too hung up on things but the Chief of Staff really should have caught this.

More Than A Few People at Grant Thornton Aren’t Buying Stephen Chipman’s Accent

Earlier in the week, Grant Thornton CEO Stephen Chipman gave team GT a taste of experienceAugust which was supposed to be a rousing battle cry as SC leads the U.S. firm into second half of 2010 and beyond.

Because we didn’t really have anything better to do, we asked around to see how things went and it sounds like if you bothered to sniff some glue prior to the 90 minute presentation, you probably enjoyed it. For the rest, not so much. A source attests:

Really, really horrible.

They had it set up in what they tried to make look like a TV studio – but may have just been a cleared out a staff area with some curtains and mood lighting. It was 90 minutes long.

GT’s new internal battle cry is now “Unleashing our Potential” and the market focus is going to be “Dynamic companies”. It’s the same crap that gets spouted each year for the last decade, just dressed up in a different package.

First, they had Chipman’s Chief of Staff, some Senior Manager ask Chipman a handful of scripted questions with scripted responses – and the 4 different teleprompters you could see on occasion would back up that claim.

We’re going to chime in here for a second – “Chief of Staff”? Is this a typical position in most large accounting firms? What does this guy make? How did he get the job? It’s doubtful that he’s anything like Rahm Emanuel. If you have any insight on any or all of these, please enlighten us.

Back to the review:

After that, they had Chipman run a roundtable with different members of senior leadership – again, mostly scripted. They also allowed 3 senior managers ask – again – scripted questions that resulted in canned responses from Chipman.

In essence – they wasted 90 minutes of everyone’s time, obviously laid out some cash for the production (4 different camera angles, a few teleprompters etc.) and told us nothing – the production came of as small-time…actually, the production came off as middle-market quality – or maybe it was a dynamic production that was unleashed on GT personnel.

The general consensus is that no one likes Chipman as the face of the firm – he is bland, uninteresting and some of us think the accent is fake.

We checked with one additional source on the bogus accent theory and they had this to say, “No I think it’s real I just think he has a hard time reading from a telepromter, he has to speak slower.”

So who knows!?

Bottom line is that GT employees got treated toa low-budget set, softball questions that addressed the firm’s vague strategy of “unleashing potential” on “dynamic clients” and a “bland” CEO whose British-ness is being called into question (at least by some). FOR 90 MINUTES. Are we missing anything?

Grant Thornton Picks Up Four Tax-Exempt Experts from WTAS

We’ve confirmed that Grant Thornton has poached four tax-exempt experts from WTAS, LLC. Presumably beefing up their NFP practice is part of the experienceAugust that Stephen Chipman told the GT troops about last week. Grant Thornton employees received an email last night about the news:

“In line with the strategic plan of our firm and in support of our growing not-for-profit industry practice we are pleased to announce that four experienced tax professionals, formerly of WTAS LLC, have joined our Firm. Frank Giardini, who lead WTAS’ National Exempt Tax Advisory Services Practice (ETAS) as well as Ron Taxin, ETAS Director, Russlee Armstrong, ETAS Director and Andrea Kyzyma, ETAS Manager recently joined us. These individuals bring over 70 years of combined experience in providing tax services to significant non- profit organizations, especially in the higher education and healthcare industries. They have served the tax needs of many large public charities and private foundations. Frank and his group are based out in our Philadelphia office, but will serve clients in both the Northeast and Southeast regions. This group will also play a key role assisting our national NFP tax leader, Dan Romano, in serving GT’s national clients as well as supporting the NFP tax professionals throughout the firm.

A source familiar with WTAS, confirmed these departures, saying that they occurred earlier this summer and thought the move was “a good opportunity for them.” Emails and morse code messages sent to Grant Thornton have not been returned.

Grant Thornton Is Nearly Done ‘Transitioning’ Offices

Earlier this week, Grant Thornton CEO Stephen Chipman sent an email out to the troops, letting everyone know what’s been going at GT has been over the last 6 months or so. Turns out, quite a bit has been going on! Never mind the blogging for a second, we’re talking about the offices that have been closed or sold around the country. Namely Albuquerque, Honolulu, Madison and Greensboro.

SC gets to all those and he does mention the sale of the “Manufacturing Transaction Services practice, based in Detroit” which, we’re pretty sure, is the Supply Chain Advisory practice they sold to KPMG. The email doesn’t really tell you anything that we haven’t already but it is in some nice Chipman prose, if that’s your fancy.

But for good measure, we also learn that the firm has “transitioned out of our regional community hospital practice in Wichita,” which is news to us.


BKD picked up GT’s community hospital practice and everything should be finito by August 31st. But that’s the last of ’em! The only other news is that August, apparently, is going to be an exciting month for Grant Thornton because that’s when SC & Co. are going to communicate the “full details of [the firm’s] new strategy.” We have no idea what means but it’s sure to make August considerably more exciting than normal.

As many of you know, Grant Thornton’s Senior Leadership Team has been deeply engaged in the process of refining the strategic direction of our firm. Our strategy unleashes our potential as a global provider of distinctive client service and includes focusing on our “chosen” markets—those markets that offer the greatest opportunities for the growth of our business and the development of our people.

During experienceAugust, when we come together as one firm, I will be communicating to you the full details of this new strategy. Today, I want to personally share with you the news that, as part of implementing the strategy and better positioning us for growth in our chosen markets, the firm’s senior leaders have made the difficult decision to transition from a few locations and practices.

The firm will be closing and transitioning offices located in Albuquerque, Greensboro, Honolulu and Madison. Additionally, we have transitioned out of our regional community hospital practice in Wichita and our Manufacturing Transaction Services practice, based in Detroit. We expect all six of these transitions to be completed by August 31, 2010.

Beyond these, I want to assure you that the firm has no additional planned office or practice transitions. Below, I share with you details about each of these changes. Additionally, I will be providing you with more information during the August 10 all-employee video conference.

Transition plans for affected offices
In Albuquerque, Grant Thornton has signed a letter of intent for Moss Adams LLP to acquire our practice. Moss Adams LLP is the eleventh-largest accounting and consulting firm in the U.S., and its Albuquerque office is the largest accounting practice in the state of New Mexico.

Our Greensboro office will consolidate into our firm’s Raleigh and Charlotte offices, where we will continue to serve our Carolinas-based clients.

In Honolulu, two former Grant Thornton partners—Patrick Oki and Lawrence Chew—have purchased the office. Patrick and Lawrence will be the partners in their newly-formed firm, PKF Pacific Hawaii LLP. PKF Pacific Hawaii will assume Grant Thornton’s office space, transition existing employees in Honolulu and continue to provide audit, tax, and advisory services in Hawaii.

Our Madison office will merge with our Milwaukee office, where—in conjunction with our Appleton office—we will continue to serve the greater Wisconsin marketplace.

Transition plans for affected practices
In Detroit, we completed a transaction for KPMG to acquire our Manufacturing Transaction Services practice, a provider of a highly specialized niche service offering to the automotive sector. We continue to have a growing and successful Detroit office and we remain fully committed to providing audit, tax, and advisory services to the automotive industry.

In Wichita, we completed a transaction for BKD to acquire our regional community hospital practice.. We are fully committed to our practice in Wichita and are excited about the opportunities for growth under our new managing partner, Lori Davis.

Honoring our colleagues
The decision to transition these locations and practices was not an easy one. We determined our course only after lengthy deliberation, and with the greatest consideration for the best interests of our business, clients and our people. To those of you who sit in the affected offices, and who are leaving the firm as a result of these transitions, it has been a privilege and honor to work with you. On behalf of the entire firm, I want to express to you my heartfelt gratitude for your service and wish you the greatest success going forward. Your contributions to Grant Thornton have been enormous, and your offices and practices will stand as proud parts of the firm’s history.

Investing for growth
As we look ahead to executing on our strategy, this realignment of our resources and geographies will better position us for growth and will help us to build greater market share in our chosen markets. It enhances our ability to focus on the development of our people and providing our clients with an exceptional and distinctive client experience. I look forward to sharing more details—and my excitement— about the new growth strategy next month, when unleashing our potential will launch in tandem with our new fiscal year.

In closing, I want to thank you for all that you do to make a difference at Grant Thornton. I am confident that August is the start of one of the most exciting times at our firm to date, and I look forward to beginning this new chapter together.

Stephen